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Do I need an Asbestos Survey for a Commercial Property?

Do I need an Asbestos Survey for a Commercial Property?

Expert view

If you own a commercial property, you’re looking to buy one or you’re a tenant or managing agent of one, you may be responsible for managing any asbestos on the property. Without an asbestos survey you won’t know if there is asbestos in the property and therefore if you are responsible for managing it or not.

We’ll look at whether you need an asbestos survey or not and what to do to manage it properly if there is asbestos in the building you own or lease.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 sets out the responsibilities of managing asbestos in any property that is in a non-domestic property or premises.

Asbestos regulations have been brought in to protect people from asbestos related diseases. These are serious and can cause serious illnesses and even death, but asbestos that is in good condition, is undisturbed and has a clear management plan in place can be a manageable risk.

Asbestos was finally banned in the UK in late 1999, so any commercial property that was built after 2000 will not contain asbestos so no survey will be required. But asbestos was used in buildings for around 200 years before that and therefore there is a high chance that if you are looking to buy an older property, there will be asbestos present.

There are two types of asbestos surveys. They are a Management Survey and a Refurbishment or Demolition Survey.

The Management Survey

The Management Survey is used in the management of asbestos in your premises. You’ll need a surveyor to do this for you unless your premises are straightforward. It’s hard to know what is classed as straightforward so, if in doubt, use a surveyor.

The Management Survey will make sure that no one is harmed because of the asbestos in the property. It will also make sure that the asbestos material is in a good state and not deteriorating and that no-one can agitate or disturb the asbestos by accident.

The Management Survey will identify any asbestos-containing material (ACM) that could be interrupted by any normal day to day activity or any standard building maintenance or installation of any new equipment.

During the survey, the ACM will need to be accessed and agitated slightly so they can obtain an idea about whether the asbestos fibres will be released into the air if they are disturbed.

The result of this survey will give the owner, potential owner or occupier the opportunity to use all of this information either to make a decision about whether to buy the property or not or to complete a risk assessment to decide whether they need to take action by completing remedial work or can leave things as they are.

Refurbishment or Demolition Survey

A Refurbishment or Demolition Survey does what it says it does. It’s a survey to decide if any work that is intended to be carried out to the property will put anyone, including the contractors working on the premises, at risk. It will also make sure that any specialist work that needs to be completed is done by the right people.

What Does This Mean For Me?

If you are considering buying or renting a commercial property that was built pre-2000, make sure you obtain an Asbestos Management Report. Your duty under the law is laid out in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. You have to protect anyone from exposure to the asbestos in your property. This would include completing all of the following:

  • Find out if there is asbestos in the building, where it is, how much there is and its condition

  • Make a presumption that there may be asbestos in some materials if you are not sure

  • Keep up to date records on the state of the materials that contain asbestos or those that you presume contain asbestos

  • Complete a risk assessment on how likely it is that anyone could be exposed to asbestos fibres and prepare a plan about how you will manage the identified risks

  • Put the plan into action

  • Review the plan and amend it if necessary

  • Talk to anyone who may need to work on the materials or agitate them and provide them with all the details they need to be safe

If you would like help with buying or leasing a commercial property or you already own or lease one with asbestos present, we can talk to you about your options and how you can move forward.

Partner Simon East has many years’ experience advising on all aspects of commercial property. He will be more than happy to help you: / 0117 923 4013